Posted by: Thixia | July 4, 2008

Pack smart to save space 1 of 2




With new airline restrictions, proper planning is even more important




There’s a reason why they call her the “Zen folder.” Heather Knittel — a professional organizer by day — has perfected the art of cramming heaps of stuff into small spaces. “And how,” she says, “to do it calmly.”


Following the recently announced cutbacks on the amount of luggage air passengers are allowed to take, this placid packing know-how is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity. Only last year economy ticket holders on airlines such as British Airways could take two suitcases weighing 32 kilograms each on its Vancouver/U.K. route, for example, but present allowances are far less generous: a single bag of 23 kilograms for the same ticket, with other airlines restricting it to just 20. On the short-haul front, Air Canada may even start to charge a fee to check in a single bag — just as American Airlines does — for its North American flights.


To eliminate stress or charges for excess baggage, Knittel’s first suggestion is to look at your suitcase. “If it’s really heavy, then it’s time to get something lighter because if your bag’s already up there in weight, it won’t take much to reach the 23 kilograms or so limit,” the co-founder of Good Riddance explains.


Using every inch of space inside your case is all down to good planning: “A lot of people panic and just throw in stuff,” she says. “It’s something I see with clients all of the time, that we all have too many things. How many clothes do you need? The truth is we usually go for the same favourite clothes to wear, so don’t pack the things you won’t actually put on. Less is definitely more.”


Lay out your clothes on the bed before you even think of packing. Opinion varies on whether you should choose the clothes to take by colour or outfit. “Packing is a simple and quick exercise for me,” Vancouver businessman Dean Fenwick says. “I just stand in front of my closet and pick an outfit for each day that I am gone. The casual clothes can be repeaters.”


Vancouver flight attendant Kirsty Lewis, however, believes opting for colours allows for more sartorial choices. Catching up with her in Amsterdam, one of her routes this week, she says, “If you pack according to colour as opposed to ‘outfits’ then you are multiplying your wardrobe. So before putting your clothes in your suitcase, pile them up and consider the overall colour scheme.”


Think about buying some multi-functional clothing, Knittel, who is a member of the National Study Group for Chronic Disorganization, adds: “There are lots of clothes that you can either dress up or dress down.”


Once you know what you’re bringing, all three agree there are many items that can be rolled to save space: T-shirts, for example, linens, and most jeans. “If you fold and roll properly you can still get a lot of stuff into our suitcases,” Knittel explains, adding, however, that she would not roll dresses but lay them in half at the top of the case. “Fold pants in half and put them on the bottom or the top, where it’s flattest and think about taking clothes with really good ‘memory’ in them so that you’re not worried about wrinkling them,” she opines.


There’s also a knack for transporting suits — virtually wrinkle-free — according to Fenwick, the CEO of Specialized Office Systems (which supplies software for denturists). “I always get my business clothes dry cleaned before I go,” he explains. “I do not take them out of the plastic bag that comes back from the dry cleaner. I fold them all together with hangers and all in an accordion-style (usually just three folds) and I place them in the centre of my luggage padded with my casual clothes on either side. As soon as I get to the hotel I immediately hang them up, inspect and iron out any rogue wrinkles.”


Knittel suggests Space Bags (which eliminate air and compress your clothes) as a good way of cramming more clothes into a suitcase.


Troublesome items such as shoes should be wrapped separately. “A little trick,” Knittel proffers, “is fitting them together like you would in a shoebox — toe to heel — it makes sense to conserve space as much as possible. And as a rule of thumb, don’t go for more than three pairs of shoes.”


“Stuff socks in shoes to save space,” Lewis, who has worked in the airline industry for nearly a decade, adds. “Put wine bottles or other bottled purchases/presents in women’s knee high boots and then zip them up.”


Fenwick, whose work trips take him all over the U.S. and Canada, as well as London, France, Japan, Brazil and Venezuela, says, “I always wear my business shoes on the plane and tie my running shoes to my computer bag [which is carry-on luggage].”


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